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Athletes

Agnes Keleti

Born on January 9, 1921 in Budapest, Hungary, Agnes Keleti is the most successful Jewish female athlete in Olympic history. With ten Olympic medals from three Olympic Games, she stands third all-time among women for the most Olympic medals and fourth all-time as an Olympic gold medal winner.

Lilli Henoch

Lilli Henoch was born in 1899 to an upper middle-class family. Despite her merchant father’s death, a relocation to Berlin and the remarriage of her mother, the family was able to maintain its previous high standard of living. Even in childhood Lilli Henoch had developed a passion for sport, particularly track and field and team sports. This was comparatively rare for a woman in the 1920s, when track and field sports were considered unwomanly.

Andrea Gyarmati

The daughter of Olympic medalists, water polo champion Dezso Gyarmati and swimmer Eva Szekely, Andrea Gyarmati was born in Budapest, Hungary in May 1954. At the age of twelve she began serious training as a swimmer under her mother’s guidance and competed in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico in three events, reaching the finals in all three.

Maria Gorokhovskaya

Ukrainian-born Maria Gorokhovskaya was the top performer among all athletes, both male and female, at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, where, at the "advanced" age of thirty-one, she earned seven medals in the Games' gymnastics competitions.

Charlotte Epstein

The year 1996 marked the centennial of the modern Olympic Games, and the anticipation of American women’s gold medal triumphs in swimming and diving continued a legacy of athletic excellence linked to the efforts of Jewish American Charlotte Epstein. Referred to as the “Mother of Women’s Swimming in America,” Charlotte Epstein was born to Morris and Sara (Rosenau) Epstein in New York City in September 1884. She demonstrated her love of swimming by influencing U.S. women’s swimming to reach prominence in the 1920s and 1930s. Known as “Eppie” by friends, colleagues, and swimming champions, Epstein started the renowned Women’s Swimming Association of New York, launching the national and international fame of American women swimmers in the early twentieth century.

Thelma Eisen

Tiby Eisen was an outstanding center-fielder in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) of the 1940s and 1950s, starring for nine years in the only professional women’s league in the game’s history.

Lillian Copeland

Lillian Copeland was one of the greatest overall woman athletes in the mid-1920s. Born in New York City on November 25, 1904, she was the daughter of Minnie Drasnin, a housewife, from Grodno, Poland. She was also raised by her stepfather, Abraham Copeland, the manager of a produce company, after the death of her father. She attended Los Angeles High School.

Natalie Cohen

Because Natalie Cohen’s life met the very essence of the definition of the “Georgia Women Sports Trailblazers,” she was elected a charter member in 1996. Already a Hall of Famer, this crowning honor was only one of many received throughout her life recognizing Natalie Cohen as a woman who has made significant contributions to sports, forging paths for others to follow.

Gretel Bergmann

It should come as no surprise that Gretel Bergmann could never forget Germany and everything that she had experienced in that country. But what is astonishing is that it was not the loss of a homeland but rather her exclusion from the Olympic Games that led her to complain. She felt she had had been deprived of “the thrill of a lifetime… simply because I was born as a Jew” and this is an indication of the important role sport played in her life.

Australia: Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

Since the beginning of British colonialization of New South Wales in 1788, when between eight and fifteen Jews were among the convicts who arrived with the First Fleet, several waves of immigration have brought the Jewish population up to its present size.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Athletes." (Viewed on December 15, 2017) <https://jwa.org/topics/athletes>.

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